“A clear majority of Israelis favor a two-state solution” to the conflict with the Palestinians, former president Shimon Peres told a gathering of Middle Eastern leaders in Jordan on Friday.
“Arriving at a diplomatic resolution is possible, necessary and urgent,” Peres said in a news conference during which he fielded questions from dozens of journalists from the Arab world, at the King Hussein Convention Center at the Dead Sea.
Peres spoke at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa confab that attracted numerous statesmen and leaders from across the region, including the host, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“I believe that peace talks could resume and we must do this as quickly as possible,” the former president said. “What is clear is that nobody can freeze the situation as is, and the status quo is not an option.”
It was premature to write off the two-state solution as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian peace, Peres said.
“There were times when it seemed that peace with Jordan and Egypt was a pipe dream,” he said. “It is by virtue of the peace treaties with those countries that we live alongside our neighbors and overcome the complex challenges of the Middle East.”
When asked if the chances for a twostate solution had disappeared, Peres replied: “The new government in Israel has only started to work, so it’s too early to judge.
“But I can say that there is a clear commitment to two states just as there was during the previous government,” e said. “The importance of negotiations is to solve the disagreements.
There’s no need to get carried away or give up in light of existing gaps.”
The calculus in the region has changed thanks to Islamic State and the ascent of radical organizations, Peres said.
“Terrorism has claimed many lives,” he said. “It has turned many people into refugees, destroyed families, and spilled a great deal of blood. Irrespective of religion, we must say in a loud voice that decapitating is not a religious or moral edict. It’s a sin, not a prayer. The Middle East today knows that terrorism is the real enemy.
“The moderate forces in the Middle East must stand shoulder to shoulder and cooperate for the sake of progress and hope and against any escalation and bloodshed,” Peres said. “Together we can turn this region into one that flourishes.”
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